The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-2) and the Penn State Nittany Lions (0-4) will enter into the second half of their eight-game seasons when they face off on Saturday. Both of these teams reside in the Big Ten conference, though on different sides of it. The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the Big Ten West, with three teams above them in the standings and three teams below them. The Lions are seventh in the Big Ten East and are only one win from tying with a trio of teams above them. The last time these teams faced off was in October of last year, where Penn State came away with a 17-12 victory.
Iowa Looks To Tip Scales In Second HalfAs the Hawkeyes enter the second half of their season, they have an even split between their wins and their losses. This is certainly a change of form from last season. In 2019, the Hawkeyes won their first four games of the season, and across the entire season, they would only lose three times. They’ve had strong starts for the past several years- they haven’t had a season where they didn’t win the first three games since 2016, and they haven’t lost their season opener since 2013. One of the Hawkeyes’ main strengths this year is their defense. They allow the 17th fewest yards per game in the nation (314.3) and the 22nd fewest rushing yards per game (112.8). At just 14.8 points per game, Iowa is the 8th best in the nation in that category.
The Hawkeyes’ most recent game was against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The strong 35-7 victory isn’t even their largest win margin so far this season. Iowa totaled 346 total yards, 111 passing, and 235 rushing. They only had possession for 23:50, and during that time they managed 20 first downs and a third-down efficiency of 3-7. Spencer Petras completed nine of his 18 pass attempts and threw both a single touchdown and interception. Tyler Goodson leads the team this season in rushing yards, and he continued that trend in this game. He tallied 142 rushing yards, 20 carries, and a pair of touchdowns. Tyrone Tracy Jr led the team with 36 receiving yards across just three receptions.
Penn State Still Searching For VictoryThe Nittany Lions are the lone team in the Big Ten that remains winless as the conference enters its second half. The 0-4 start to their season is the worst since 2001, nearly two decades ago. This is an especially surprising turn of events for a team that went 10-2 last season and won their bowl game with little issue. If the Lions are to drop their upcoming game against the Hawkeyes, it’ll be a first in the program’s history. Out of over 100 years of football, Penn State hasn’t ever dropped five games in a row to open the season. Despite being winless, the Nittany Lions haven’t had a terrible season. They don’t rank in the bottom 25 in their yards per game or points per game, offensively or defensively. They’ve also not lost a game by more than 20 points, with their largest point deficit being 16 and the closest they’ve come to winning is a single point.
The Nittany Lions’ latest loss came from the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Cornhuskers won 30-23, despite a strong effort in the second half from the Lions. In the second half, Penn State had a pair of touchdowns and a field goal while holding the Cornhuskers to just a single field goal. The Lions had 501 total yards, 256 passing, and 245 rushing. They had possession for 36:24, and during that time had 30 first downs, an 8-17 third-down efficiency, and a 3-5 fourth-down efficiency. Both Will Levis and Sean Clifford threw during the game, with Levis completing 14 of 31 pass attempts for 219 yards and Clifford completing 5 of 8 for 37 yards. Devyn Ford led the team with 66 yards from 16 carries, and Pat Freiermuth had the most receiving yards at 113 from seven receptions.
Clifford has really struggled this season so it would be no surprise if Levis started.
- The Nittany Lions are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 home games.
- The Nittany Lions are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
- The Hawkeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
- The Hawkeyes are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.